Content creation at all levels requires a lot of photographic images in order to more effectively tell a story. In many cases the content creator may not have the time, skill or resources needed to create the visual imagery needed for their story or intended use. This is where stock photography shines. Stock photography is a collection of images that have been made available by photographers with the goal of providing a large variety of photo options to the varied needs of individuals, publishers, businesses and other content creators. Stock photography can be used to help illustrate a blog post, used in printed promotional or email materials or even used for advertising purposes. Photographers that shoot for and license their work to stock photography agencies provide a wide variety of images. Some of this work may have been previously shot for another client while some is shot with the intent of specifically filling a niche in stock photography. This is a very different approach for the photographer. Commercial photographers are hired to create very specific photos. The client specifies every detail so that the photo matches what the client needs for their story. In the latter case the buyer of the photography pays a large premium to be able to dictate and control every aspect of the photoshoot and its outcome. With stock photography the content creator does not have a say in, nor control of the outcome and is limited to using what has already been created and is available to license.
Photography licensing or usage is an industry term that defines how the image will be used, for how long and typically in what size. For example, you may license a photo that is only 800 x 800 pixels, can only be used in a blog post and requires the image to be re-licensed again after one year of usage. This is often referred to as Rights-Managed stock photography. In some cases, stock photography is “Royalty Free” which means for a one-time price or in many cases a subscription, you can use the image in any manner you choose. It is important to select the appropriate license that matches your usage so that you do not break any rules set forth in the licensing agreement you agree to when licensing the photographs.
Despite the prevalence photography on the internet all of it is protected by laws that protect the copyright holder from theft and illegal usage. It may be easy to find and use an image off the internet but depending on how you use it it may be against the law and could put you in a position to have to pay damages for the unlicensed usage. To avoid copyright issues, make sure that you have outlined all uses you have in mind for the image and that your license matches your requirements.
Finding the right stock image that fits your needs may prove time due to the vast array of options coupled with the limitations of selecting from what is available on the site. If you have flexibility the specifications you need for your content, it will make the process easier. For example, if you are writing a blog post about orthodontics and the advancements being made in the industry and want a photo of woman in blue scrubs in a dental office leaning over a patient. You may not be able to find a stock image with that level of specificity. In some cases, you may find a male Orthodontist when you wanted a female or you may be limited to images of an orthodontist in an office without a patient in their chair. Your flexibility and being able to adjust your parameters make the use of stock photography very effective. The pricing structure of stock photography is based on providing a wide variety of people a low-cost option to access professional photographs.
Be sure to outline exactly what your usage of the image is before you begin your search. If you are planning on using the orthodontist image for a printed promotional mailer, for email marketing, and on a website the image will need to be of a minimum size and quality to ensure that it works well for all uses. In addition, the license must allow for advertising uses. Any image used for advertising requires a signed model release. Many stock sites will list images that include a release in their listings. The size, use, model release and other specifications will be listed on the stock photography website. It is safe to assume that with each additional requirement that you require, that the licensing cost will be go up.
Stock photography provides content creators of all natures a wide variety of images for a very low cost. Due to the prevalence of affordable digital camera many photographers have released their archives to stock agencies in the hopes of monetizing work that has already been completed. In addition to the growing needs of content creators many photographers pursue a career of shooting images with stock requests in mind. All of this is hugely advantageous to content creators that are in need of high-quality imagery for an affordable cost.